He placed his right hand on me and said: “Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. I am the Living One; I was dead, and now look, I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.” Rev. 1:17-18
Dear Lord Jesus, it’s stunning, heart-blessing and timely to realize the most repeated command throughout the Bible is “Do not be afraid.” The angels spoke these words to startled shepherds at your birth; you repeated the command to a devastated Mary on the morning of your resurrection; fifty years later, you appeared to John in a vision with the same settling, centering encouragement. And now, you bring this same good news to our hearts: “Do not be afraid!”
Because you are the First and the Last, Jesus, we don’t have to be afraid of anything in between. You are God, and we are not. You will never say “oops” about anything in world history, or in our lives. You never merely “try” to do anything—as though not succeeding was a possibility. You never scratch your head in confusion, cover your face in embarrassment, or have to resort to plan B. You are perfectly executing your sovereign will—from naming the stars to numbering our hairs.
Because you are the Living One, who was dead and who is now alive forever, we don’t have to be afraid of Judgment Day, or this day; for your death on the cross is our judgment day, and your resurrection from the dead is the assurance of our belovedness . And now we have a permanent banner flying over us declaring, “There now, and forevermore, no condemnation for those who are in Christ!” Not only is there no condemnation, there is only full delight!
Lord Jesus, because you hold the keys of death and Hades, and everything else, we don’t have to be afraid to die or to live. You’ve robbed the grave of its victory, removed the sting of death, and defeated the devil and all the powers of darkness. We don’t have to be afraid of people, failing, getting old, suffering, not having enough, not being enough, forgetting or being forgotten… for your perfect love drives out all of our fears.
You’ll never leave us, release your grip on us, or regret saving us. Free us even more fully from our fears, that we might live more fully to the praise of your glory. So very Amen we pray, in your loving and powerful name.